Offense Loses Two Starters Early in Second Half
The Tennessee Titans had to finish off the Houston Texans without two of their most important offensive players.
Tight end Jonnu Smith sustained an ankle injury early in the second half, and Pro Bowl offensive tackle Taylor Lewan hobbled off the field with an apparent right knee injury in the middle of the third quarter. Neither returned to the contest, which the Titans ultimately won 42-36 in overtime led by running back Derrick Henry.
Smith has been one of Ryan Tannehill’s most reliable targets this season. In a contract season, the fourth-year veteran caught a team-high 18 passes for 221 yards and a career-high five touchdowns through the first four games. Before the injury, he had just one catch for 13 yards against the Texans.
In his absence, Anthony Firkser had the best day of his career with eight receptions for 113 yards (both team-highs) and one touchdown.
"We prepare that everyone can do any role that we have in the offense," Firkser said. "So, whether if it’s Geoff [Swaim], me, [fullback] Khari [Blasingame], everyone is able to kind of step up and pick up that role no matter what happens during the game, because you know that’s bound to happen in football. So, we all are ready to step up at any point."
Lewan has now missed action in three consecutive games, and four of the first five contests overall.
Ty Sambrailo once again replaced the three-time Pro Bowler -- and this time he might stay in that spot. Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported following the contest that Lewan's injury could be season-ending.
On the second play after Lewan's injury, J.J. Watt beat Sambrailo for a sack and a forced fumble that led to a touchdown and Houston's first lead of the contest, 23-21 with 4:35 to play in the third quarter.
"I think Ty comes in there and does a nice job for us," coach Mike Vrabel said following the contest. "We're sure lucky to have him. He's one of those guys that takes advantage of the situation. We'll continue to work and make sure that we're trying to find ways to help people where they need help."
Sambrailo agreed to a one-year deal with the Titans this past April, spent each of the last three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons after the Broncos traded him in exchange for a fight-round draft pick at the beginning of the 2017 season. With the Falcons, Sambrailo played 44 games and made six starts.